Tunisian govt blocks publication of independent media
afrol News, 15 January - A Tunisian editor, trying to publish her independent weekly newspaper 'Kalima', has been blocked by the government for the third time in five years. Also the foreign-hosted website is blocked in Tunisia.
The French group Reporters sans Frontičres (RSF) today accuses the Tunisian authorities of blocking the development of an independent press in the country after journalist Sihem Bensedrine failed in her attempt to register the weekly newspaper 'Kalima'.
Ms Bensedrine again was turned away when she tried to begin the registration process for the bilingual publication at the Interior Ministry's offices in Tunis on 13 January 2004.
This is the third time since 1999 that Ms Bensedrine has attempted to file a "preliminary statement" for 'Kalima' with the Interior Ministry. A home-produced version of the newspaper is currently published on an irregular basis and distributed unofficially.
The Tunisian editor also produces an online version of her weekly newspaper. But Kalima's website, which is hosted abroad, continues to be blocked by the Tunisian government and cannot be seen within Tunisia.
Anticipating a setback at the Ministry's offices, Ms Bensedrine decided to invite witnesses to observe her request for registration. Kalima's editorial committee, her lawyer, Member of Parliament Mokhtar Djalali and Tunisian Human Rights League President Mokhtar Trifi accompanied the journalist.
All witnesses could testify to the Ministry's blocking. "She was once again able to show proof of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's refusal to liberalise the press in Tunisia," RSF noted.
On 14 January, Ms Bensedrine was subjected to a particularly thorough search at Tunis airport before boarding a flight to Germany. A copy of 'Kalima' was confiscated from her as well as three CD-ROMs containing personal data.
Further, on 5 January, Ms Bensedrine was the victim of an assault that she believes was linked to her strong stand in support of free expression in Tunisia, according to RSF.
- This latest unsuccessful attempt to publish the newspaper 'Kalima' provides additional evidence of the Tunisian authorities' determination to keep the press under control,' said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a statement today.
- President Ben Ali has publicly declared his support for freedom of information but deliberately prevents the creation of an independent press, Mr Ménard added. "Against this backdrop, the holding of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in 2005 is a scandal."
By staff writer
© afrol News
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